Pedro the Lion / Ester Drang / P:ano Richard's on Richards, Vancouver BC - March 6, 2004

Pedro the Lion / Ester Drang / P:ano Richard's on Richards, Vancouver BC - March 6, 2004
If you've only heard one thing about Pedro the Lion's mainstay David Bazan, it quite likely relates to his spirituality. But Pedro isn't a "Christian rock" band in the conventional sense. Rather, the Seattle area emo act blends more unassumingly into the current indie-rock landscape by using melodies and introspective lyrics to please their diverse base of fans. Currently on a short headlining tour before heading out to support Death Cab For Cutie, Pedro's Vancouver set offered fans an even-handed mix of older songs, crowd favourites and material off the upcoming Achilles Heel. Overall, the set was definitely lighter and less rock than their last tour in support of Control, which is perhaps a consequence of both Pedro's current three-piece line-up and the direction of Bazan's newer material. But as has become tradition, Bazan still broke twice between songs to field audience questions on everything and anything, from the meaning of the new album cover to his wife's reaction to the lyrics of a particular song. Also out to feature songs from their new spring release were show openers and local charmers P:ano, who began the night with a handful of upbeat, lively songs. Although well received by the crowd, it will take some time to no longer miss the second piano/keyboard and the previous prominence of singer/guitar Nick Krgovich's warm melodic vocals. It's not all too common, but the evening's show stealer was the bill's lesser known out of town middle act Ester Drang. The only disappointment was that they hadn't been able to sneak any merchandise with them across the border. (So just what is NAFTA good for?) From start to finish, Ester Drang's accomplishment was no small feat — captivating a bar full of people there to see other bands. Even more remarkable was that they did this with a repertoire of somewhat understated ambient songs, thanks to great musicianship and complex, lush arrangements. In fact, the visual backdrop of grainy scenic images (quite different from the psychedelic variety preferred by Oklahoma kinfolk the Flaming Lips) was interesting; it certainly wasn't necessary. Hopefully, they'll be back headlining their own show in the not too distant future.